Let’s revisit Kenny Bell’s Wisconsin block.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about or don’t remember, this Deadspin article covers it pretty well. (And plays it in slow-motion, which is fantastic.)

Let’s dial up the original gif, in all its glory:

Kenny Bell

Fantastic. Now, what happens if we, ah, take Kenny out?

not actually Kenny Bell

Not only does this prove even harder that this was a technically clean hit, it also looks like something out of goddamn Paranormal Activity.

Happy Halloween!

Emojis Suck, an Android Keyboard Adventure

So, if you have an Android phone like myself, and you use the default keyboard like myself, and you’re on Kit Kat, the latest update, like myself, then your texting screen looks something like this:


Which is okay. It functions as a keyboard. But, and this is the largest problem by far, that completely fucking asinine emoticon button is cornered between the backspace key and the period key, which are probably the second- and third-most pressed buttons on the keyboard, after spacebar.

And if you graze the emoticon button, then the backspace key moves. So if you’re typing fast, you can’t even delete all the happy faces and anchors you just typed without seriously hunting for the stupid thing.

This button didn’t use to exist all the time, but now it does, and it’s pissed me off enough that I’ve gone looking for another keyboard, because that’s a thing you can do with Android. So I went off to Google and found four hip new keyboards, collected from a couple different posts, for trying.

First was Minuum, a tiny tiny keyboard that prides itself on maintaining maximum screen real estate. There are only like 10 buttons, and you let the autocorrect do the rest. It’s an interesting concept. Ultimately, though, it was really hard for me to hunt for letters, and adding symbols is very nontrivial. I don’t want a learning curve for my keyboard. Next!

Next was Dextr, a “nu” idea for keyboards. Seriously, go click on that link, and tell me how completely arbitrary that layout looks. The letters are laid out in alphabetical order, and the edge letters are too close to the edge of the screen for me to hit them reliably (I have an OtterBox on my phone, because I drop it sometimes). It seems like something that could maybe work if you took the time to learn it, but again, that’s not the goal. Next!

Third was SwiftKey, which is a fairly straightforward alternative keyboard. It’s best known for its Swype features, but has other simple features like being able to move and resize it, as well as silly features like applying themes and syncing your autocorrect data to the cloud. I played with it for a while, it was fine, though I didn’t feel it offered anything over the default keyboard (the emoticon button is still kind of there, too, but you have to hold the enter key).

Fourth was TouchPal. Don’t be led astray by the app name, it really has very little to do with emojis in its free form. I’ve seen TouchPal described as a keyboard with too many features for its own good, but honestly you can turn off almost anything, so it ends up just requiring slightly more configuration out of the box. Here’s a shot of the same message link as above, but with the TouchPal keyboard:



So right away you notice there’s lots of buttons at the top. These are sort of customizable, and actually the part I like the least about TouchPal. The hand lets you access settings (neat) as well as themes (don’t care) and the store (don’t care). The EN icon lets you switch keyboards and languages (more on that in a second). The <I> gives you four arrow keys and a host of select/copy/paste buttons, which are fantastic. You won’t use them much, but man is selecting exact text hard on a small screen. The + just lets you add other shortcuts, which I don’t remember and aren’t important. (The V shrinks the keyboard.)

The number/symbol pad is laid out well, in my opinion, it has numbers in the num pad format, instead of across the top row. There is no possible way to access emoticons from this screen. In fact I don’t even remember where they where, or where they could be. They’re just gone.

Already this seems good enough for me. There are a couple small tweaks you can make to autocorrect and things that are nice. Nothing that would change my decision but they certainly reinforce it. You’ve sold me. So what’s behind the EN button?

Well, you can actually swap keyboard layouts in the same language. If you had a flip phone with texting years back, you’re familiar with T9, which was the way to text on a phone without a keyboard. You just clicked the buttons in the right order and the phone’s dictionary figured out what you were trying to say. There’s a T9 option, which I didn’t take a picture of but looks like you’d expect.

What completely blows me away is this intermediate mode, termed T+:


For a person with fat fingers who types fast, this layout is a godsend. I think I’ve had to pick the second guessed result, instead of the first, maybe once in the last day or so. It is so incredibly tight. Sometimes it’s even smart enough to split up two words you’ve typed back to back (sometimes I miss the space bar).

If you’re that person, and you also like to throw in non-dictionary words that you could conceivably reuse (like “Spelunky”, for example), then it is exactly two buttons presses to switch back into full-keyboard mode, where you can type your word normally, and it is exactly one button press after you’ve completed your word to add it to your personal dictionary. (If you don’t want to save a word, like “aaaahhhh!”, then you don’t need to dismiss any dialogs or click on anything special, you just press twice to switch keyboards, type your garbage word, then keep typing or switch keyboards again.)

Spoiler: that person is me, and maybe it’s you, and maybe you should pick up TouchPal if you have an Android phone and you hate the emoticon button, or you have fat fingers, or you just want to be like me in all the small ways.

Three semesters left.

Had a talk with my adviser today about what I have left to graduate. With a year and a half to go, I’m looking at 30 credit hours, minimum, left.

Conceivably, that’s a single year, with an early graduation, and 15 hours a semester. In reality, that’s not something I need to do. I’m not in a hurry.

My plan is to take 12 credit hours, the minimum, for the next three semesters, which will knock out all my silly gen-ed requirements (ugh, philosophy) as well as some upper-level computer science level classes.

This also leaves room for, give or take, six hours of completely free credits. Credits that I need to stay a full-time student (important for scholarship reasons) but not for anything else.

I will probably end up filling that with more computer science courses. Might as well, right? But I have the room, and can make the time, for something less useful but more fun, like a WWII class, or an art class, or something completely different.

I’m really glad that everything worked out well. Dual-enrollment in high school, as well as taking 34 credits last year, put me ahead of where I need to be, and that’s right where I want to be.

This also gives me plenty of room to continue working at Hudl through next semester, which is probably the best way to get computer science knowledge and experience, as well as cash in pocket.

So, a good day!

Miami 31, Nebraska 41

First, I want to express how happy I am that Nebraska beat Miami. I would have rather lost to McNeese (on principle) than lose to Miami.

Second, I knew that Ameer Abdullah was really good, but this game could be a season-defining performance. His total dominance and inability to be tackled were legendary, and carried the Huskers to victory.

Third, there was a Miami fan sitting at the very front of my part of the student section, and while he wasn’t exactly being quiet, he still put up with a hell of a lot of abuse from a couple drunk guys a few rows behind me. I gave him a “good game” as I was leaving and I think he appreciated it.

Fourth, a brief story: after Miami took the field and the game was almost ready to start, two banners popped up in the South student section: one saying “WELCOME” and another with the Miami U logo.

This was interesting. I don’t know if we’ve ever welcomed anyone quite so graciously — we clap for their starters but that’s about it.

Then the U disappeared, and I’ll let this picture show what popped up in its place:

Welcome to your worst nightmare


Sparq camp!

I got to go through a Sparq camp! I’ve had to explain this to a few people, so I’ll break it down:

The NFL does this thing called the NFL scouting combine, and it’s a week-long event where invited players (aka the cream of the incoming draft class) get invited to test their strength, speed, and agility in measurable ways. It’s something that NFL teams, and the public, use to rank athletes, and while it’s not the final say in who’s good, it certainly helps competition.

Nike does this thing called a Sparq camp, which is similar but much smaller and for high schoolers (and 7th / 8th graders), and it consists of four events: a 40-yard dash, a run-left, run-right, run-left agility test, a kneeling medicine ball throw, and a vertical jump. It’s partially to track your improvement, partially to show to colleges, and partially to rank yourself across all high school athletes, which Nike does with some form of ranking.

Hudl, who partners with Nike to get Sparq data on up their website for athletes who have completed these camps, decided to coordinate one of these camps in-house, just for a little friendly competition. So I jumped for it!

I don’t remember my stats exactly. My 40-yard dash was around 5.2 seconds, I think. My agility score was worse, closer to 6 (and in my defense, I didn’t have cleats). I don’t even remember the ball toss. It was miserable. But I managed to get 27 inches on the vertical leap, which is just slightly below the apparent average of 27.3 inches measured from all of last year’s camps. In fact, it’s only half an inch lower than Clay Matthews’ score when he went through the camp [same link above]. That’s sort of cool.

I’m really curious how I did relative to the other Hudlies. Not first, I know that, but I’m curious where I am. If being a goalie did nothing else for me in life, at least it let me jump okay.

Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24

What an… interesting game, with a great finish. Couple notes:

The band played Everything is Awesome, the song from the Lego Movie, during the 3rd quarter. That was neat.

Westerkamp had another crazy one-handed catch, and he laid himself out for a third but that one got called back on a penalty. I think Westercatch is a real nickname now. As long as he never returns punts.

My dad texted me, “AMEER FOR PRESIDENT!!” directly after the end of the game, and it made me laugh a lot.

Finally, a super-serious analysis / post-game short video of condolence from si.com, click here.